198 Orchard & Houston Sts., unjustly closed by the SLA
Great for: interesting dishes, Taiwanese food on Four Loko, hanging out with Eddie Huang
I have many fond memories of Taiwanese xiao ye, the night market, from visiting Taipei as a baby foodie. Imagine my excitement when I heard Eddie Huang of Baohaus fame was opening a xiao ye right here in my neighborhood! As it turns out, his dishes were considerably amped up from the basic food I remember, but I like and respect his creativity.
My date and I started with the poontang potstickers, made of LaFrieda custom blend pork and napa cabbage. They’re good but not mind-blowing. I would have liked more spice. The name (and pretty much all the other dish names) was cute, though – I like a menu that makes me laugh.
Taiwan’s most famous minced duroc pork in 5 spice and soy sauce over rice with braised egg and pickled daikon was nice. The famous Cheeto fried chicken with chili orange marmalade dipping sauce was juicy, tender and perfectly cooked. The Cheeto dust is just sprinkled on top, not quite as integral to the dish as I expected. In both dishes I could wish for a little more spice.
My favorite thing was probably the corn with garlic, red pepper and unagi sauce. The sauce is to die for and the corn is very crispy.
I had to try some of their funny cocktails. The Milk Skywalker is a yummy, crazy, end-of-night type drink. You are probably only drinking it because you’re already hammered, despite knowing it will just fuck up your morning (at least). The Taiwan favorite apple sidra with vanilla and bourbon is slightly less insane. It tastes awesome, surprisingly – the vanilla is a lovely finishing touch. Both drinks came in nice generous glasses for $12.
The super friendly staff and the hip vibe made this a very cool little restaurant. Everything was black wood with red accents, super Asian without being cheesy. And it was really good for an area of drunkards. My understanding of why they had to shut down so fast was that Eddie did some unlimited Four Loko deal right before it got outlawed and the State Liquor Authority came down hard on them about it. It wasn’t really fair but you can still get some Taiwanese goodness over at Baohaus, a few streets away. And for regular dishes there is always Saint’s Alp Teahouse in the East Village.
Rating: 7 / 10
Our cost: $75 (3 small dishes, 1 medium, 2 cocktails)
Noise level: classic old-school Eddie music
Chance of walking in: sadly, nil. Why, SLA, why???